Something About Her, Chapter 5

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, its age-old pain,
Its ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star piercing the darkness of time:
You become an image of what is remembered forever.

—Rabindranath Tagore

Smitha woke up in a bathtub filled with water, spewing in her own fragrance. She had a splitting headache and had never felt such tiring force, keeping her still. She slowly opened her eyes, and tried to remember where she really was. The surrounding did not look familiar to her, the porcelain WC and the hancrafted mirror. Inspite of the fact that she couldn’t remember this place, she felt a weird familiarity in the taste with which the drapes and linen were chosen.

She got up unsteadily, and spotted the towel she could wrap around herself. IT was difficult for her to walk, she was uncomfortable and yet she didn’t feel surprised. Slowly, she remembered everything. The travel back to her own time, the loud thud, her entire trip. She walked out the door and found a bathrobe in a corner of the bed. She wrapped it gingerly around herself and walked outside the bedroom.

It was strange how she had never seen this place before, yet, knew exactly where the kitchen was. She walked towards the kitchen to find herself a glass of water but found something else, rather someone else. As she stood in the kitchen doorway,her joy knew no bounds. How was it possible? Had she done something in the past to change her life so much! Was it possible? Her questions quickly melted away when Vinod turned around and scooped her up in his arms.

‘You took forever…’,did he know! ‘I thought, you were never coming out of the bathtub.’He planted a long wet kiss on her mouth. Suddenly it made sense to her, he knew what was coming in future so he never started his life with supriya. She didn’t remember much,but she didn’t need to. Maybe it was not so bad altering the past. He kissed her all over while she was lost in all the thought.

He whispered in her ear,’I know you know, and now, I know too. I  ordered pink paint for the nursery. See, I was right all along.’

She smiled, which slowly widened, as it dawned up on her.

The End

 

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Something About Her, Chapter-4

To love someone that cannot love you back
To be loved like no other when you are ready to collapse
Pouring into another the utmost devotion and grace
Waiting so patiently for their effervescent waters to flow so you can taste

Life restored to the veins of memories past
Broken hearts mended from the love you gave but were not asked
An aura of love surrounds me and gives me comfort within its perfection
What a fine day that we met just out of chance of which I will question

No need for complements or airs of pretension
You give the highest level of love from a friendly reaction
To say I do not love you would be treason
My utmost, who fearlessly loves me without reason

—Rebecca Maiese

Vinod entered the room with sweat breaking inhibition. He was very aware of what he might do. This feeling had never left him, he felt a certain tug, no, a known pull. He couldn’t bring himself to knock the door. Finally, he did, and when he did, she opened the door for him and it all went back to normal. She was not dressed proactively or in any way exposing parts she shouldn’t. Very simply dressed in Pjamas and a sweat shirt, it seemed she covered up all the more for the occassion. The room looked normal, and no eerie feeling caught him. He sat down, she had old Monk on the table. Of course, by now, he was used to her knowing things about him.

One peg loosened him up enough to strike up the courage to ask Smitha questions other than the whole bizarre affair of time travel.

‘So, tell me something, why would someone like you, love, someone like me?’,He asked.

‘I don’t have any reason why I love you. I mean there are a million reasons why I like you, but I can’t tell you one reason why I love you. err. The future you.’

‘hmmm’, he accepted the response, even if he didn’t quite understand it. He got up to get another peg. She pulled a Classic Milds.

‘I didn’t know you smoked’,he was curious.

‘I smoke yeah, but in future, wanted to keep the habit at bay for as long as I could.’,Smitha was slightly reddened with embarrassment.

‘I couldn’t have told you everything! It’s impossible that I tell anyone everything. I don’t tell anyone everything!’,Vinod could hear himself talk and chuckled at the thought.

‘Okay, go on ask me whatever you think is your deepest darkest secret.’,Smitha accepted the challenge.

‘Fine…’Vinod said, amused,’ have I ever told you of having done something extra ordinary in college, like…’

‘Dating two girls at the same time as part of a dare’, Smitha interrupted.

Vinod was shocked, no one and absolutely no one knew about it except his college friends.

‘My first book, that I ever read. The one that pulled me in the world of books!’,Vinod bombarded another one.

‘The Lord of Flies by William Golding’, Smitha was enjoying this game.  Vinod was stunned, only his 4th grade English teacher knew about that.

‘If I had to pick between Seth’s An Equal Music and A suitable boy, which would I pick?’

‘you prefer An Equal Music, but I could never read it, and you took offense at that. I love A suitable boy. I think they are both equally good. An Equal Music is a little more technical wrt love and music. But they are both pretty great.’ Smitha was lost in the memory of Seth’s books.

When Smitha returned to reality from her thoughts, she looked at Vinod who was just looking at her.

‘I can’t believe you, honestly! What is it that is so terrible that you have to travel back in time to fix.’,Vinod had a very gentle concern in his eyes.

Smitha closed her eyes, she saw it everyday in her head, like there was only one channel stuck in her head and only one show kept repeating itself. The night when Smitha dropped Vinod home later in the future, and Supriya was standing there holding their son at gun point. The quarrels, apologies, shots! She killed the ten year old boy in cold blood, shot Vinod in the head twice and finally killed herself. The memory was so intense for Smitha, she couldn’t help control her tears and Vinod had to shake her back to the present time and hold her, for she was shivering.

She broke down in Vinod’s arms. The tears that were never shed before, when she saw them take his body, the tears that were never shed during the sleepless nights for the next few years. the tears that were never shed once, because who was she to cry. For the world, Smitha never existed for Vinod. It was just him, she just existed for him, to him.

Vinod overpowered by the sense of something very powerful, kissed Smitha on the forehead. He thought it would help her, but it helped him instead. He kissed her again to feel something. Like he had been waiting for her, his entire existence and it finally came through. He crushed her in his arms and recreated her. It was a long night and they both, in a state of trance, just kept completing each other’s rhythm.

The sun broke into the room and woke Vinod up. Smitha was all dressed and ready to leave. She sat down beside him, softly grazed her hand on his cheeks and spoke with such gentleness, ‘Remember what I told you, it is imperative that you do what I told you. you will know who I am, when you realize it, just go away.’

She said it, and left the room. What she didn’t notice was the look on his face, for if she had seen Vinod’s face. She would know, that it was already too late. He was already madly in love with her.

 

Something About her, Chapter 3

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

—William Ernest Henley

 

‘Oh, that’s it?! Believe you me I don’t want to know you!’,Vinod was talking, but somewhere he knew he didn’t mean it.

‘That hurt! But I guess I have earned it. Listen, it might sound easy right now, but there will come a time when you won’t be able to…well…resist me.’She said in a slight smug way.

‘Is that it? Is that all?’, Vinod asked, calmer now.

‘Yes…I guess my work here is done.’,smitha knew what was coming next.

There was an awkward silence. Nobody knew what to do or what to say. Smitha was the one to break the silence.

‘So,  I am going to go back in my time now. See if what I did, made any difference.’,Smitha picked up her bag.

‘Wait, listen, I know I have been very rude to you. Not welcoming at all. I am curious what is it that happens in the future that you are trying to avoid.’Vinod asked.

‘I can’t tell you that’, She smiled. ‘But we can spend time just talking maybe’.

For some reason Vinod wanted to stay and figure out this beautiful, mysterious woman who was looking at him like she knew him. The fact that she knew everything about him, and still looked at him with adoration, baffled him. He thought nobody who actually knew him could like him, let alone love him. Here she was, beautiful, intelligent, witty and clearly, in love with him. The way she looked at him, with fierce protection and belonging. Like it was something so obvious, like it was the rule that she loved him, and anyone he knew who didn’t was so foolish. Supriya could never see Vinod like that, with utter confidence, unconditional love, especially after Josephine.

Smitha clicked her fingers to snap Vinod back to reality. ‘You can ask anything apart from what I am about to avoid’.

‘Okay then, how is the future, you know, for me?’,Vinod asked.

‘It’s pretty amazing. You and Supriya have a boy, you guys are really happy. You land nice jobs in the future, and become the supervisor Technical Head in Infocomm. It’s all rosy. Except for one problem.’

‘What?’

‘Me…’,Smitha laughed but it was a hollow laughter.’Can I make a request? I have a hotel room booked in my name, Can we have a few drinks together before I leave? Inside the room, nobody would recognize you, can you do that?’

Every bone in Vinod’s body wanted to say yes…but he knew what that might cost him. He had promised himself, never again. yet, something was just not right about denying the offer. He thought maybe a few hours, what difference can it make.

He decided to go with her. He could, afterall, handle a few drinks.

Something About Her, Chapter 2

In fact, to be frank and fair,
It can be a little bit scary.
It’s getting worse,
The fear; it’s getting worse,
Year on year.
Time was, when I was young,
Wide eyed
And impressed, the fear
Didn’t frighten me
Much at all.

—David Windle

 

It took 16 hours, 4 days and numerous attempts for Vinod to convince himself of the reality. She hadn’t yet told him of their love affair. His cheating and for whatever it is worth, he hadn’t asked her. There were so many thoughts and so many unanswered questions. He was honestly just scared to ask them, give words to those thoughts. Like a beautiful aroma wafting from the dark deep woods which he couldn’t or rather didn’t want to decipher.

‘I can see you are taking it too well…I don’t know if its the age or you are not able to process the information.’ She said, trying very hard to resist the urge to smoke.

He sat down next to her, folded hands, eyes looking directly at her. It always made her nervous. ‘So, you are saying, you travelled back in time to a point seven years ago, and have waited since then till date to come see me?’

‘More or less… well, I thought if I were to do this, might set a few things straight in life, and work hard enough to get into IIT Madras this time.’ She smirked.

He didn’t look amused. It couldn’t be a joke, he couldn’t discuss it with supriya, he couldn’t tell her that he had been secretly meeting a girl who claimed to have come from the future. The knowledge she had about his life was so uncanny. She knew where he was born, his school friends, all his school shenanighans, college friends…even Josephine. Not one person knew about everything she had said. She would have to literally meet all his friends who ever existed to gather all that information. Unless, of course he was the one who told her.

‘Let’s assume for a minute, you are right. Why are you here? Why do you want to meet me?’ Vinod asked, exasparrated.

‘I am here to ask you for a favor. Something that might not make sense at all.’She replied.

‘Don’t be cryptic! I have had enough of your puzzles and word games’. Vinod blasted.

‘Fine. I’ll be straight with you. 10 years from now, when you meet me, and you will know it, trust me. When you meet me,’it seemed she was choking on her own words, because she couldn’t come up with any. She continued, ‘When you meet me, don’t talk to me. Ignore my mails, whatever urge you have, whatever binding force you feel. Whatever you feel.’

Something about her, Chapter 1

She quietly stood after the event. Mostly, at this time, she would just smoke, but that wasn’t how it was right now. She had not yet picked up smoking and she couldn’t alter anything on her journey, she knew that. ‘Changing the past, would be apocalyptic’ . If only, they could take away that peace and quiet that dawned upon her, when she drew the smoke from her lips.

She snapped back to reality when he walked out of the chamber. She could’ve recognized him in a million people, smart intelligent eyes, perfect jawline, creaseless forehead which contained that thick head of his, she laughed to herself at the memory of just how many times she had called him that when she was pissed. Most of all, however, she remembered that smile, that beautiful smile which had such an effect, she couldn’t look directly at it. It quite literally lit everything around it. He stopped momentarily to look at her, maybe sensing something. She got all the more nervous, had he recognized her, no but it was impossible, there was still time, atleast another 10 years before he met her.

She shrugged off the feeling, and went up to him. He was surrounded by people congratulating him, asking him how he remembered everything, how he read so much, how many quizzes were useless for them cuz he would win them anyway. She stood behind him, breathing him in, she just wanted to touch his broad shoulder and hug him, but she didn’t.

‘Hi, Mr. vinod, quite a performance.’, he turned around, she could see the unsettled feeling in his eyes. The feeling which was just about right, because he had somewhere in his head recognized her, just didn’t know it. He felt everything he would later feel for her, but didn’t know why.

‘why, thank you, ma’am’, he replied. Ughh, she hated it when he called her that. Today, however, he didn’t know.

There was an umcomforatble lull, This part of the country was not used to women walking up to them and making conversation. She eased them off, but not for long because her next statement was just out of the world. ‘Can I ask you to join me for coffee, there is something I really need to talk to you about’.

Vinod was perplexed. His buddies were sharing secret smiles and nods and he was very aware of them. He was so weak in the knees but he couldn’t do anything. He was sorted of like charmed, and wanted to know more about this enchantress. ‘I am sorry, maam, but I need to go home to my wife’. He said specially emphasizing the last word, so as to make a point.

‘oh well, I would hardly take 15 minutes’, She said thinking of all those times, he had called her stubborn and persistent.

Vinod was now just irritated at the reaction his friends were giving him, he would be asked about this for months, teased but then again, when has a beautiful girl of 25 walked upto any of his friends and asked them to coffee. So he agreed and they went to a nearby coffee shop. Something where they could smoke, because she knew he would light one with his coffee.

‘Have you heard of rasputin?’, She asked him sipping the extremely sweet filter coffee.

‘Yes, I have.’ He was being shy.

‘I know you must be wondering why have I come to meet you, or more importantly, who I am.’

‘You are sharp’, wow so he was sarcastic too back then.

‘you are not going to belive what I am going to tell you’

‘look lady…’, ‘Smita, Smita is my name’

‘look Smita, I need to get back home, so can we please just hurry this along, who are you and what do you want from me.’

‘very well then’, she started. ‘I have come from the future, I meet you exactly 10 years from today through a quiz in Infocomm.’

He looked at her in disbelief, and what she thought as a mix of laughter and rage.

‘It’s tough to digest I know but you have to believe me, its imperative that you…’

He cut her off with a wave of her hand, she still got irritated with the same tone of ignorance, why wouldn’t he just listen!

‘look lady! I don’t care about your hokum pokum, you are wrong. I don’t work in Infocomm, I work with Cogtrade! I don’t intend on going back to Infocomm!

‘you will, next year,when supriya would take a sabatical and…’he cut her off again.

‘you know supriya? you know my wife!? Is this her prank! I can’t belive it…but she never does anything like that!’

‘Yes, I know her, and your son…’ she calculated,’ who hasn’t been born yet! sorry, I didn’t know if you wanted it to be a surprise.’

He got up towards the smoke shop. ‘I have your cigarette right here, kings right?’ He sat back down, slowly. There was something about this girl, the conviction she had in her voice, either this was a bad bad joke or maybe, just maybe, she was really from the future.

 

Moh-Maya

“What the hell is going on between my husband and that bitch?” Maya’s patience was at its lowest ebb and she was ready to burst.
Sanjay knew that she was serious. “Look, Maya. There is nothing going on between the two of them. Just a little bit of healthy flirting, I’d say.”
“Flirting? Healthy flirting? Really Sanjay . . .” she rolled her eyes in disgust. “That’s what you men call it? There is nothing healthy about flirting, Sanjay, not for a married man.
Healthy flirting is a term introduced by perverted men who want to lend legitimacy to their extramarital dalliances. Flirting invariably has a sexual connotation to it.”  She got up from her seat and walked around the room gesticulating and muttering something to herself. Suddenly she stopped, turned back, looked at Sanjay and asked, “Did my husband sleep with her? You are his friend. Did he ever tell you anything about it?”

Sanjay Knew with every passing hour, his composure was at the helm of breaking… this was the fifth time he had come over to Mohit and Maya’s place at this hour, with no sign of Mohit around. More importantly, this was the third time he had rescheduled a date, rather, the date. She was so not going to pick his calls again. Come to think of it, Rita was slightly desperate. Having been rescheduled for a simple drinks date thrice already, if she was still ready to forgive him and come over to his place on Sat, she would be his bitch!

“There you go again! You cannot get out of this by day dreaming!” She snapped her fingers and with that his very lucid Rita dreams. “Tell me Sanjay… I know he is your friend but I am your friend too”

Maya was crying now, not in a quiet sob-by kind of way, or even in the more conventional teary kind of way, she was screaming and tears were rolling down her mascara laden eyes, making her look like a very real threat. Sanjay decided to call his friend while his wife threw stuff on the ground, he should probably lock up all the liquor.

Dial Mohit Office. Ringing. No answer. He probably left office for the place early. Should he tell her? No, it would too embarrassing. Only Mohit should tell her. Damn, he could still not help chuckling at the memory of the first time Mohit mentioned it. You always hear of such things, and see them on the TV but, for it to happen to somebody you know so closely.

He watched the mad woman throw expensive vases and get on and on about how she left everyone to be with Mohit and this was what he gave to her in return. That extremely well maintained body, the neckline of her dress flaunting her cleavage. The diamonds clinging to her neck, she was indeed beautiful. He tried to reach Mohit and couple of times but failed. He finally decided it was time to leave, and went to her. By now, Maya had exhausted herself and was just lying on the sofa, smoking a cigarette.

“Hey, I should be going, it’s really late and I shouldn’t be here. I will talk to Mohit alright? Now, don’t drink too much and just try and get some rest.” Sanjay started walking towards the door, somehow his steps were heavier today and it took what felt like forever to reach the door knob.

“Sanjay wait!” Maya’s voice was barely audible. “Can you please stay here tonight, at least till Mohit gets back, I don’t want to be alone.”

Sanjay smiled, this was the moment he had been waiting for all evening. He turned around and looked at her, what a mess she was. “Okay then, let me inform my cook that I won’t be coming back tonight.” He smiled at her. He stepped outside on the porch and lit a cigarette, there was no cook. He bemused himself at how little Maya really knew about him. He took a puff and called Mohit Cell and disconnected after the third ring. This had been agreed upon.

Mohit called back.

“Is everything like we planned”, “yes Mohit, things are exactly how we planned it”.

”are you still at the Reiki place”? “Just got over, needed a few extra lessons for today”

“When do I see you then?” “How long do you think it will take?”

“I don’t know, by what you told me about her, might take a while!” Sanjay chuckled and disconnected.

He went back inside the house. As expected, Maya had dimmed all the lights keeping only a few of them on, so as to make it look romantic. He looked at her again, and didn’t see the beautiful daughter of the richest motherfucker in town, but a wounded lioness, ready to hunt again, he knew why she was doing this. She wanted to get back at Mohit. She could stoop to any level just to make him realize his mistakes. What a cold heartless evil bitch!

“you deserve it”, he muttered. “Why, that looks very romantic”, he said out loud. Maya smiled her best smile and offered him some wine.

“I thought, if he is out with that bitch, why should I be moping around the house. I have good wine and a good company, let me just take advantage of that.”

“I could use a wine”, Sanjay said and took the glass from her. All the signs were right there. She looked at him different, lingered her fingers a little longer on the glass than required. She was laughing and filling his glass up, he was flirting, the healthy kinds. She was responding and before long she was pressing her chest against her arm. After that what happened is a little hazy in Sanjay’s memory. She kissed him and they went upstairs, he undressed her…

 

Part –II

A few months before the night of Maya’s explosion, Sanjay and Mohit had met at a bar nearby, a place not too far but far enough so they didn’t bump into anybody they knew. Mohit was sweating profusely.

“Wow, you have a had a rough day, it seems”, Sanjay looked at him.

“You have no idea” ,Mohit replied.

“No, I mean literally. You have marks all over your neck… obviously the good kinds ”, Sanjay winked.

“Dude, it’s not even funny anymore. She is crazy! She wants me to fuck her all the time. She wakes me up with a blow job and asks me to fuck her twice before I go to work. She comes to my office at lunch, asks me to do her in the car! IN THE CAR man! It was good fun in the beginning, I liked the excitement but now, I am just tired mostly. I hate it, I want to sleep! And if I am not doing her, I should be dirty talking to her. There is no room to say no! That crazy woman, would give an everyday slut such competition! She always wants to know how good she is in bed! And now, it’s gotten out of hand. Vijay sent me some kinky video about strapping and tying up and shit. You know Vijay! She saw it, and from then on, it’s only been that! She wants me to tie her up and do anal! She hits me, she likes to hit me blue black and fucking bite me everywhere! It’s not fun anymore. She is sick! Sick fucker  ”

“So, tell her you are into this weird shit! ”, Sanjay tried very hard not to burst out laughing.

“It’s not just that”, Mohit continued, “She loves to treat me like her dog! You should see her man… she kicks me around and in the politest of ways! She makes me run around like her spot boy whenever her friends come over! Belittles me, god! I hate every waking moment with her”

“Leave her” Sanjay got serious now.

“She is rich god damned, I like the money I get to splurge.” Mohit said matter of factly. “I am screwed.”

They met a few more times before they found the perfect way to eliminate Mohit’s problem. He stopped going home at night, just went to change and bathe. Spoke to Maya, only when absolutely required. Left little proofs that he might be cheating. But he wasn’t. He was taking Reiki classes, the magic healing. Touching and pressing the right nerves. People took years to hone this skill to perfection. Mohit needed only a few months, for he had to perfect only one skill. After the class, he went to the same bar every day, ordered the same drink and the same side, , always the same spot, facing away and no one was to disturb him. He left anonymously and always left a hefty tip. This went on for about three months before the final phase of the plan took place.

Mohit was waiting outside the house at the designated time. Sanjay had met him at the bar only a few minutes ago, he went in from the backdoor and found her exactly how he wanted to see her for so long. Ties up, spread eagled naked, slap marks and whip marks. She made him buy all those things. Sanjay had done her good. He smiled, she opened her one good eye half shut, and screamed, “oh baby! That Sanjay did this to me. I just wanted to spend some time with him. Oh god! Look at me, he defiled me!”

“Shush”, Mohit said politely. “Maya, you know, I really want to kiss you today…”  and he did, he kissed her and untied her, quite some blood had been lost, he took her to the bathroom, cleaned her up. She couldn’t understand, why was he not calling the police, why was he not taking her to the hospital. He wiped her dry. Then, he wiped the floor and then he filled the tub. He asked her to get in. “This will soothe you my dear”. She was obedient like a child. Priceless feeling. He asked her, “How did it feel” ?

“How did what feel?”, she was shocked.

“The whole episode…did you enjoy it? Oh come on, I know what happened.”

Now was the time of the grand finale. She started crying softly. “Oh Mohit, I am sorry. I didn’t know this would happen! I was mad at you and then, I wasn’t thinking.” But Mohit was not listening. He was looking at her neckline and the diamonds that were still there, Sanjay had asked for them, as a souvenir. So he touched her diamonds. He moved two fingers around her necklace, her neck, her beautiful neck where the one nerve resided which was connected directly to her heart.

Part III

Neighbors had put up a “Welcome Back” sign at the door. Mohit was in police custody for 30 days. Maya’s dad had accused him of killing his daughter, but there was no court case. They had settled out of court, since the Bartender vouched for Mohit’s presence every single night in the bar till about midnight, and the murder happened around 10 30 in the night. The neighbors said, they always heard screaming noises  and saw weird things if by mistake either of their drapes were left open. She was spoilt and nobody really liked her. It was only a matter of what will become of you reputation, if they get to know that your daughter was into this kind of nymphomaniac stuff and that she had betrayed her husband. There was no need of a court case. But if there was one, Sanjay had skillfully taken Mohit’s place at the bar, always the same spot, facing away and no one was to disturb him. He left anonymously and always left a hefty tip, Sanjay was more generous because it was not even his money.

 

Why God, WHY?

PART I

“13,23,34,53,200,500 complaints. Are you kidding me? “, the boss thundered. He had been upset since morning, partly because we had been slacking off at our jobs, mostly smoking pipe. It wasn’t our fault though; it was a really good pipe. Izik had found this new guy,  who would give us like the best stuff and we just couldn’t get enough of it. I think it was imported, this grass…like from greener pastures, literally, somewhere in south East Asia.

Never mind , that was just one of the lesser important reasons why the Boss was upset. The more important reason was he had gas. He had been thundering around almost half the world the entire night before and it had remnants in the morning as well. That was primarily why he was so mad at us. There must be a hell of a hailstorm somewhere.

“How is it possible? Like literally!!!” he jerked me back to reality. I had zoned out in the middle, I hope I didn’t leave out anything important.

“Sir, we don’t have enough resources to support the entire system, it is slightly inefficie…” Odi interrupted. Bad mistake. “Zip it!” the boss glared at the new VP operations. The Russian, I think he is Russian; he doesn’t talk much, instantly shut up, like the cat had caught his tongue.

There was a lull in the conference room, like that in a graveyard. Nobody spoke, or whispered, I doubt any of us was even breathing.

The Boss exhaled. He looked like he was going to calm down now. An expression of relief washed over our face. We all looked at him intently, waiting to give out a verdict.

After what seemed like eternity, he finally decided to speak.

“I have decided. I will have to take things in my hands now. Enough of delegating and sharing responsibility. I had nothing when I came here, all this that you see, I worked for it. I built everything from ground up. Every brick in here is my hard work and creativity. I had no experience, zilch, nada, nothing. I agree, that led me to make a few mistakes in the initial design and approach, which is why I got you guys. To do what I missed. But clearly, you haven’t done a very good job here, have you?” he paused to catch his breath, it suddenly felt like there was a tornado somewhere around, or was I too dizzy. It must be the pipe. I have got to stop smoking at work. I mean, granted this is good stuff, but Burma, or whatever his name is, sells it at a very high price. Izik is a gentle soul, even though it looks like he could rip you in a thousand shreds by just clicking his fingers. He is mostly harmless. Anyway, I have to be more careful, they have been making very weird eye contact with me all morning, and that is mostly when we have to go for ground inspection or some such stuff. I hate doing that.

“Luci! Are you in, or out?” Boss was directly looking at me. The flare in his eyes could’ve burnt mine, so I quickly looked somewhere else. My shoes. Damn, I should’ve been listening. Now, what do I say, yes or No. If I say No, I will have to give him a written record of the reason as to why I am denying this assignment. Then that will reflect in my year end appraisal. Just great! Maybe, I should just say yes. How bad could it be? The last time I took a gamble, he sent me to Germany. It wasn’t so bad, the weather was sharp though, should’ve checked with the weather guy before.

“For the last time, luci. Are you going to come with me on this assignment or not?” , boy, was he angry. “Yes, Sir. I would be honored.” , I said before I decided to change my mind.

“Well then, it’s decided. Michael would go with us as well, out of all you nut heads, he has a better grasp of production. “ Darn it, why Michael??? He was employee of the month for the last, I don’t know, gazillion years and that wasn’t even the worst part. The worst part was he was my older brother.

“That’s it then. Meeting adjourned.” And with this, it was set in stone, our Boss; God was going to visit the earth with Michael and myself, Lucifer. We were to collect our tickets, itineraries and other such documentation from Odin, our VP operations. Man, where was Izik, I could really use some good and fresh air, should call up that other guy, Burma.

PART II

It had taken us two long days to get our base camp right. The first stop was extremely important. We had carefully sorted all the accusations, cases pending against god, simple complaints and even suggestions region wise. The maximum complaints came from the African sub-continent. But that was more of suggestions and simple complaints. They had sorted an arrangement outside our arrangement and were just looking for answers. Important as it may be, that kind of attention could render our reputation some harm. After all who likes being grilled for answers? Second, the statistics showed us that Middle-East had a peculiar situation. They were in the top 10 for the unhappiest-from-our-services zones; they did not really have many complaints/questions/pending cases. It looked like they were quite sorted and they weren’t asking god much. In fact, they were even bigger frauds than us (of course, we are in marketing sales), they simply pretended they knew what we wanted, what God wanted. So ultimately after a lot of brainstorming, some gargle blasters and little effort, we got nowhere. So, god, did I mention his stomach was upset, threw a glance at the world map and so sharp was his gas that one single burp burnt the whole map barring the Indian sub continent.

“That’s where we start.” He said before he closed the lavatory door behind himself.

It was decided then. God, Michael and I were taking the Garuda 101(we borrowed it from our Commander in Chief of security, Shiva) down to the stratosphere, where we would catch Air force one down to the earth’s surface and finish the rest of the journey on the orient express which would take us to New Delhi, India by 2 PM on 3rd June, 2015.

Now, whenever we are on business trips with the boss, it’s the best of times. We fly first class. We are constantly fed. This time, however, it was different. God had decided to do a different kind of survey as to why couldn’t we satisfy our customers better. What new products should be launched that are instant hits, or that’s what we’ll tell our shareholders. He decided not to act like god, but, just a measly looking frail human. Not only him, we both were to do the same. If you are wondering why didn’t we stop him from this stupidity? Well, he would’ve fried our ass, like literally.

So, there we were, 2 PM on the 3rd of june, year 2015 and it was freaking hot in there. No wonder people were cranky, the temperature was 44 degree Celsius. You asked someone for the Ajmeri gate side exit of the New Delhi Railway station, and they gave you such angry looks. Anyway, somehow, in spite of the scorching heat, we reached our place.

Now, the plan of action was simple, three people to go out in three different directions, like humans generally do and just observe things around, what do you think is wrong, yeah, like it is that easy. “Put you Business school knowledge in here, do whatever it takes, just get me results.” Boss’s final words before he sat down to fart again. People around thought it was the clouds but sadly there was no rain, which made them angrier for some reason.

At 4 PM, all of us, started heading to 3 different directions. I took the central road, for some reason it seemed like it would be easier for me to study things there. Mick took the eastern direction, and god took the southern bit.

After hailing an auto, whose driver I think ripped me off, I finally reached the cannaught circle, as the locals call it. Did I mention it was hot? I decided if I didn’t want to lose my mind, I should get rid of my hair. And I went straight to someone who was shaving heads and faces. I sat down and asked him to shave my head. After what seemed like a full 5 minutes, he said “there you go”. He looked pleased with himself. I looked pleased with him too. Paid him, boy was my wallet thinning down! I went looking for these people who cribbed so much. I was kind of pissed at them. Who do they think they are? We give them food, water and tress and air and ground. And they crib about it? How dare they! I realized I had never felt so angry in my life before. Was it the heat? I should check up the facts for the winter last term. I spent the entire evening observing, taking notes, making small pie charts for comparison, smoking some pipe, then running away from the cop guy. It was a good fruitful evening and I was pleased with myself.

I reached, a little after 10, Indian standard time, at the shady motel room we three had rented. I heard somebody hurling in my bathroom. I went to check, it was god.

“What Happened?” I had never seen this before, I was beyond worried. “Where is Michael?”

“Oh, you know Michael, he likes to go deeper in his research, leaves no stone untouched. He is probably going to be back in a couple of days.” God said wiping vomit off his mouth.

“What happened to you?” I asked.

“Oh nothing, It was really hot outside and I just didn’t know what to do. I felt like I would fall when I went to this place and they serve this drink there, it’s not as good as the pan galactic juice we get up stairs, but it is pretty good. You should try it. I just didn’t know when to stop. Forgot I wasn’t god anymore, I was human. “, he flashed his teeth. God seemed to be in a good mood. It started drizzling outside.

“Okay, anyway, I have my results here and I might be working towards a great solution here…” I began.

“No No No… We don’t need that no more. See I met shyam, this guy at the bar, he is an engineer. He gave me a superb solution to everything” God interrupted me.

“You discussed this with another human?”

“Not really, I just told him to talk to me like I was god, and tell me what could really be done about the situation with humans. And after about a few laughs, he spilled.” God was really excited about this.

“You told him you were god!?” I was baffled.

“He didn’t believe me! He laughed at my face.” He seemed amused. God continued,”And he told me the perfect solution. ” There was a dramatic pause. Drama was his favorite pass time. God loved theater. If he was not god, he would be a drama teacher in a stupid celestial government school.

“Go on” I said, to give him the said satisfaction.

“We just improve our PR skills. Yeah! A few miracles here and there, a few faith healers…and that’s all. CSR!”

“CSR? Are you serious? Corporate Social Responsibility? ” I was losing track. I hated Drunk god. I mean, this was not the first time. He had always been the last person to be invited to a glug-glug party in heaven! He got just too creative. He created earth in one of these moments, and we were all still suffering for it.

“Are you saying we don’t have to make this trip? This whole nonsense was for nothing! A stupid drunk earth engineer gave you the solution to your celestial problem!” I was truly agitated.

“Who would’ve thought!! And listen Luci, I have been very hard on you, how about You and I go out for lunch tomorrow? These humans have really good food! We’ll go for some kebabs, Shyam told me a very good place. It’s close by, Karol Bagh or something…” He said, “ and don’t you worry about Michael, he is a good strong kid, he will come back on his own. He is just working! I know! That Kid has the potential to be…” I couldn’t take it no more. I shut the door behind myself.

I was wondering if it was time to quit this job, this guy was clearly nuts! He just changed his entire planning and strategy on a puny human’s mind! I was losing my mind, and the cooler was not very effective. It was hardly cooling anything. Least of all my mind! Should I even attempt at explaining my solution to God, but, we all know he doesn’t listen to anybody. I eventually slept angry at the heat, the mosquitoes and mostly at God.

PART III

I got up with a heavy head. I wanted to scream for some reason. The light was too bright. Damn it! I wanted to go back to sleep, then I remembered that I had a task in front of me. I went upto God’s bed. He had his head in his hands and he was groaning.

“How are you feeling this morning?” I asked.

“Not too great, how do these guys do it? They drink and go to work and look forward to doing it again. I am telling you I am never drinking again while I am still human. What time did I go to bed last night? I don’t remember anything.” God moaned.

“So you don’t remember your PR skills plan? The ultimate answer!”

“No, that I do. I wrote it down here on my Ipad. See, these humans are not so bad after all…I have everything stored here with time and date. We should get a couple of them for Odi, he keeps forgetting stuff a lot. ” Damn, it. Where did he have the time to get one of those Ipad thingies.

“Fine” I said, “We start the miracles this morning, I will take the same spot.” I wanted to just get out of there.

“Yes, I go to south again…Maybe touch a bit of Gurgaon as well. Oh and here, keep one of these Iphones as well, to keep in touch. While our heavenly radio is out of tune, we can call each other through these little pocket clouds. And, I will leave one of them phones for Michael, in case he decides to come back earlier than we think. ” God waved me out, dismissively.

I stepped out of my room filthy and smelling of sweat. As an angel, I never had to bathe or smell good. However, humans always stank. I would never leave that bug had I created this whole system.

So, there I was back at the circle drinking a miraculously smooth and tasty milkshake, leaving bits and pieces of heavenly miracles here and there. A thief returning the wallet he stole; a guy getting squint eyes because he was eying a girl wrong, a blind guy getting his sight back, a lost kid finding his way to his parents. Small and entertaining. It was almost afternoon, when he called. I totally forgot we had lunch plans.

“Hey god, how is it going?”

“Damn awful! Where are you?”

“At the cannaught circle. Are you close by?”

“Yes, I thought you’d be there. Where else could you be if you were in central Delhi.”

“Yup, meet me at KFC, block B, inner circle.”

“Got it!” and click the line went dead.

After about 15 minutes, I saw him rushing past an orderly, screaming at him to give him side.

“Stupid, idiots, they don’t know how to walk!”

“Hello God… are we having a good time?” I joked.

“I am having the most awful time of my tenure. This place is crazy! I had to take a bus, where one of them guys stole my ipad and my money, thank fully I was playing candy crush on my phone, or that would’ve gone too! I didn’t get a seat for about an hour, and then when I did, another guy shoved me and sat on it. I forgave him, but he accidentally, or so he says, stepped on my toe! It’s been hurting ever since, my pinky toe! I went to help a blind guy, and that guy started arguing with me…asking me to mind my own business! I am minding my own business right now! He asked me to, you know, to…”

“fuck off..?” I chipped in…

“Yeah! How dare he? And it was so hot, I almost fainted twice! The auto driver was asking me all the money that was left on me. I requested, almost pleaded but he didn’t listen!”

The ranting went on for quite a while. I tried to calm him and eventually after a two hour break, we both went back to work. Wonder what Michael was doing…

I spend the rest of the day simply loitering around looking for some guy who might get me my fresh air. But I couldn’t find anything. Finally, I decided to call it a day and go back to the motel.

Nobody was back yet, not God, not Michael. So, I watched something they call porn. Boring and it doesn’t make one bit of sense. Honestly, don’t waste your time on it. But, it did remind me of Camilla…Boss’s secretary. She is so soft to look at. She gives you a fuzzy feeling in the stomach. Maybe, when I go back I will ask her out, take her for coffee…Her birthday must be around.

I must have slept dreaming of Camilla, because when I got up, it was 2 30 in the morning. Where were these guys? An uneasy feeling crept through me…I went to see god’s bed to check if he had tried calling the other phone he left for Michael. That’s when I noticed it. It must have been like that from the evening. But I noticed it now. His stuff was gone. Was he mugged? And kidnapped? Or worse!

I frantically tried his number. There was a ring, but nobody picked up. Beads of worried sweat started forming on my brow. What must have happened? I called again, no response.

Tring…Tring…tring…no response

Tring…Tring…tring…no response

Tring…Tring…tring…no response

Tring…Tring…tring…no response

Tring…Tring…tring…Hello?

“Hello? God! Where the hell are you?”

“Oh! Hi, I can’t believe it catches reception here…I am in Greece luci! I am taking a vacation.”

“A Vacation!? Are you nuts! Why didn’t you tell me? I am here stuck in this dry arid land with no faith, cleaning your mess, and you are on vacation!?”

“Now now Luci, that’s no way of talking to your boss. Well, I was so frustrated with this whole thing, I couldn’t take it no more and I took off…poof…vanished. I should’ve told you but it was very sudden. Let me make it up to you. I’ll give you a fat ass promotion and a big hike…yeah? Let me call you in an hour to get your travel arrangements right. Oh, and Michael is getting married Btw, he found a girl, some Indian demi-god. That’s why he was missing all this while. Can you believe it? But, you’ll know about it from him.”

Was it for real? Let me get up there once, I am going to quit! This is it. Mick goes and screws around and I work my ass off, and God is on vacation?… One more earthly hour, and all this is over. I am going to protest! I will take my people with me!God must be sacked!

One hour passed and then some more. No one called, no arrangements. The number was out of reach and I was frustrated. Maybe, he got something else to do. I took off from the motel without paying anything. I had no money. I was sitting at a curb.

“Hey…psst…hey, you Lucifer?” I looked around. Who here could know my name!

“Yeah, who are you?”

“Iziquel sent me. Said, you might need some fresh air”. This stranger who looked like a hippie, who had really long beard and was well ahead in his age, looked more than family to me at that time! I hugged him and cried! Yes, I cried…with tears and all…not proud of it.

He gave me an understanding look, and said, “You waiting for god to call you back?” I nodded.

“Hmm, okay, if you have to wait. I know this place, near the sea. A lot of booze and stuff, nice Russian girls, it is about a day from Delhi. My friend will get you a job in one of his shacks on them beaches! Don’t worry, I will set you up.”

I swear to god, for once, it felt like this guy had like four heads in all directions. But that’s crazy, right! Even for gods.

Mercy

He sat there looking at her. She looked so pretty in the bridal attire. The Henna laced palms, her full lips in scarlet red, the bindi on her forehead shining like a star, her silky long beautiful neck adorned with diamonds. But, most of all, his attention was hogged by her eyes. He had never seen such intense eyes, like fire. There was more to the eyes, her lips sealed in a quiet smile…but her eyes were talking.

He moved the gaze to where her eyes were fixed and saw another guy, not very comfortable, he had a look of constant concern on his face and anyone could tell by the look on his face, that he was the girl’s dad. Now, to understand this statement, you will have to understand Indian weddings. See, its not enough to give your beloved daughter to a complete stranger (who could be a maniac, for all you know) for just as long as life, you also have to make them more than comfortable all the time and well, we have stopped taking dowry here, but who can say no to a few expensive gifts!? Oh, and if something goes wrong, it will be a question you might just have to answer not just to your daughter’s in laws, but also, to your own brotherhood. Strange but that’s family, eh? Nothing beats blood.

He knew she was worried about her dad, he was a heart patient and he hadn’t slept in a long time. Earlier this morning, he was found unconscious on the floor of the bathroom. Nothing serious, everybody blamed the pressure and lack of sleep. She was worried.

He saw the anger in her eyes when they asked her to pose for a picture and she could see her father literally going on his knees for some relative on the groom side.

He felt a pang of pain in his chest. He had lived for 32 years and loved her for 15 years of that wretched life. He had lived next doors to her for 15 years, and 15 years, he had ached for her. But this pain was different, it was more than a longing, it was as if she had decided to die and he was looking at her putting gasoline on herself.

His concentration was broken when his wife called out for dinner. He wasn’t hungry. She asked him again, before giving up on her ever-so-silent husband and joining the line of the snacks-hogging Janta.

He felt relieved to have gotten his bubble back. This time when he looked at her, he saw her looking directly at him. Their gazes were locked for a second and then broken off by the guests who had come on stage to congratulate them. But somehow, they were connected. He knew she was looking at him, if not with her eyes.

“I love you”

“I know, you never said it”

“I couldn’t, m sorry. But why are you doing this”

“Isin’t this exactly what was expected of me”

“But you were more than this” “you are more than this”

“It’s okay, maybe that is how it had to be. Vishal might just be a very nice partner.”

“He might just be the best. Do you want it? Do you want to have somebody else’s identity imposed on you before you even start making your own?”

“It might just be for the best”

“It might just be”

Suddenly, there was a loud thud, and the connection broke. The blaring music came back in his ears and he got up to see what had happened.

Her father had hit the ground again, he was unconscious. I looked at her. Her face was ashen with panic, Her to be husband, Vishal, sat there unperturbed telling her, its probably pressure and lack of sleep. He hated his gut at that time. She looked at him, and he looked back. Then he saw something, he had seen a long time ago. A time,which skipped his memory at that time. A time, he couldn’t recall, yet, remembered vividly. He saw, in her eyes, the girl he had fallen in love with.

She stood up and walked down the stage. clicking tongues and sighs. She didn’t look back. She went up to her father and sat beside him on the ground. Clicking tongues and sighs. She didn’t look back. She said something to him in his ears.Clicking tongues and sighs. She didn’t look back. She stood up from there, and started walking not towards the stage, away from it. Clicking tongues and sighs. She looked back and looked at him. For only a second, but it was enough for him. She turned around and left the ground and nobody had any clue what was happening.

He saw her again, 3 years later, in her own boutique entertaining a customer. Her father was sitting at the counter calling her out for lunch. She looked at him through the window. He waved. She smiled, through her eyes. He knew at that moment, that the point of his entire life was this moment. He had had to come to this moment, to see her smile like that. He turned around and never looked back.

Knock Knock…who is it?!

Aside

Maya was confused. She didn’t know whether to pack more of winter clothes or more of beach wear. it would’ve been better to pick a Europe trip instead, she was wondering. At least then she would’ve been sure of the weather. Thailand and Malaysia, she knew it was a lot of beaches, but if or not she needed warm clothing, She wasn’t sure.

Thinking of this trip and how it had materialized, Maya still couldn’t believe it. Only a couple months back, when her parents had decided that she had come of age to get married, Maya urged her parents to allow her one trip abroad before she got married. Having been an obedient daughter, all her life, She thought She at least deserved that much. And She was right. Her parents allowed her a trip to Malaysia and Thailand, a cheap package for 15 days, which normally, all well-to-do middle class families could afford.

Maya set off. Her parents bid her goodbye with plenty doses of good-to-use advice and home made achaar(Indian pickle). Least did they know, what Maya had in mind. But they were simple minded people and didn’t mind their daughter doing what she wanted for a bit, as long as, she didn’t invite trouble. She never disappointed them, nor, she would.

Four hours of flying to Bangkok, Maya was far from tired, on the contrary, she looked quite fresh. Her room was close to the airport and comfortably furnished. She dumped her luggage in the room, took a quick shower and left to see the place.

Maya had never been on a trip alone even in India, let alone outside. This was a new, rather, a very brave venture for her. She was excited, adrenaline was flowing in copious amounts in her body. She walked through the streets with curious eyes and an apprehensive smile. She went through the flea markets, saw some really disturbing stuff, evaded the parasitic tourist guides who wanted her to see another world. She dodged all the Quirky one liners about her dress and all the alluring escapades offered.

Aimlessly walking through the backyard of Bangkok, she finally found a place where she wanted to sit down and have something to eat. She ordered something she couldn’t pronounce and eventually, the dish came, she realized it was soup, only fancier. In the middle of her eating the soup, her adrenaline levels came back down, the endorphin glands snoozed off and She realized how lonely and homesick she felt already. But She didn’t want to succumb to the pressure and denied herself the liberty to be engulfed in the misery. She looked around, gazing at the beautiful people around her, looking so happy, so content with life. She had to suck in this spirit in the thin air and throw out all her fears.

the soup didn’t taste so bad now, and She also managed to find herself a decent dessert. By the time, She was done, Maya realized, it was dark. She got up unsteadily and walked up to the attendant.

“Where can I find a good place to have a drink?”, She asked, not believing the words coming out of her mouth. She had never even looked in the direction of drinks before. She didn’t quite understand the source of this new impish courage she had imbibed. But, She didn’t question herself a lot fearing the loss of it, if she thought about it much.

So, instead, She walked in the pointed direction. She walked in trans, unsure and insecure about her decisions, but still at the same time, excited to the core. This could be the end of life as she knew it, or not. How did She have the cojones to take this gamble? She didn’t want to know anyway.

It all started a month back, when her best friend Natalia got married and went to Thailand for her honeymoon, she came back with pamphlets and brochures of hotels, massage parlors, happy ending massage parlors…and suddenly Maya wanted to know. She still couldn’t believe she had pulled it off.

She reached the nearest pub, took a quiet corner and sat there for a half hour before ordering a chardonnay. She then took out her phone and called the number.

The rest of the evening went in a purple haze. It was an aroma she had never taken in before, a sight she had never witnessed, a feeling that was beyond her comprehension and a power she had never tasted before.

When She got up next morning,She had a slight headache, chardonnay, she thought and made a mental note of not having it again,at least, not so much. She looked around to find her clothes, most of them were under the guy who was fast asleep next to her. She decided not to bother him. Walking with slight uneasiness and a lot of weariness, she made her way to the bathroom. Turned on the shower and let the water pamper her burning skin. She tried to feel remorse over last night. She didn’t feel it. She tried to feel shame, hatred, disgust but none of the aforementioned emotions surfaced. Was it because She had convinced herself for weeks of this behavior or she was always devious and she had just accepted it. Whatever be the reason, we shall never know. What we know is that she emerged out of the bathroom with a wicked smile and a starved stomach.

Edward, she remembered was his name, was already up and getting dressed.

“Order some breakfast, shall we?”, She asked. “yes, m hungry, eggs?”, Edward replied.

“sure, yea, go ahead, order whatever you want”, She replied and turned over the crispy newspaper to read the headlines.

“What do you want to do for the rest of the day? or rather 15 days, because you have hired me for it…”,  Edward asked between mouthfuls of cream eggs.

“I want you to show me this city and give me 15 most memorable days of my life.”,Maya replied.

“wow, are you like dying or something?”, Edward was curious.

“Maybe, I am. who knows?!”, Maya said and broke into a roar of laughter.

15 days, Thailand (she never made it Malaysia), sunsets and sunrises, no reasons, no concerns, no right, no wrong, no cause, no effect.

Maya returned to the Indira Gandhi International airport, exactly how she had gone! Nothing changed in her, except everything did. She spoke the same way, soft and submissive. She dressed the same, much to the delight of her parents. She didn’t question anything, they fixed a date for her wedding and she blushed and shied like a normal Indian bride would. She got married eventually, and when her husband suggested ‘Bangkok’, She denied politely.

Bring out the Writer in you

Sitting and going through my blog, to find inspiration to write something new, I found this post I had started writing…but, maybe, because of some prior commitments or other distractions, I could never finish it.

Funny thing is looks like it must have been a great train of thought, but I am not so sure…so, I am going to put up whatever I had come up with then and let’s see if you guys can finish the story, what could be the story. The text is italicized and responses are welcome.

Who knows you might remind me of what I was going to write…

I used to think that epiphanies happen only in special situations, like a shooting star or a sunset… but, it can happen over a drink with your buddy, or just small talk with a very old friend… Some such thing happened to me lately. Just talking to someone, very close to my heart, I realized just how easy it is to…

cheers